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Multiple Tornadoes Cause Significant Damage in New England

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

The National Weather Service has confirmed five tornadoes in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut on Friday in the busiest tornado day in New England since a freak event in November 2021 in which five tornadoes also touched down.


Damage in Rhode Island. Photo: WCVB

The strongest tornado on this day, which was also the strongest New England tornado in years, touched down in Scituate, Rhode Island. In their report, the National Weather Service stated:


"There were hundreds of large trees either uprooted or snapped at their bases. One home sustained damage to its roof, the top of its chimney was blown off, windows were blown in, and an exterior door was dislodged from its framing."


Maximum winds were estimated to be around 115mph. This places the tornado at EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. This is the first EF-2+ tornado to strike New England since the 2014 Revere, Massachusetts tornado. This tornado will become only the fourth tornado in New England Storm Center's tornado database (the other three occurring in 2008, 2011 and 2014).


After tearing parts of Scituate apart, the tornado entered into Johnston, where it crossed Interstate 295. At this time, firefighters witnessed the tornado pick up a vehicle as much as 10 feet off the ground. The driver of the car was transported to the hospital with minor injuries.


Damage in Scituate. Photos by NBC 10 Boston, WHDH


Damage in Johnston was described like this by the National Weather Service:


"From there, the tornado moved across Bridle Way and Carriage Way where a number of trees were snapped or uprooted, some of which fell onto homes or vehicles. Some homes also lost some singles from their roofs. A metal Stop sign pole was bent in half and the sign was blown away. The tornado then caused damage in Highland Memorial Park Cemetery where a number of large trees were either snapped or uprooted."


After Johnston, the tornado entered into North Providence. Damage was similar to that in Johnston. Two homes have been reported to be uninhabitable due to damage sustained by falling trees.


Later in the morning, a tornado touched down in Weymouth, Massachusetts with maximum winds estimated at 110mph. This makes the tornado a very high end EF-1. EF-2 strength begins at 111mph. The National Weather Service had this to say about the damage:


"Numerous trees were uprooted and snapped. A home at the intersection of Burton Terrace and Torrey Street had about twenty singles torn from its roof. On Park Avenue, a three-inch diameter branch from a treetrop was blown about 120 yards and driven into the ground to a depth of 2 feet. An eyewitness who received a Wireless Emergency Alert could see swirling debris out a window as she took shelter in her cellar. The tornado lifted near a water tower at the end of Lockewoods Drive."


Another EF-1 tornado touched down in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. The thunderstorm that spawned this tornado was the same storm that spawned the Rhode Island tornado. This tornado briefly lifted off the ground before touching down again in Mansfield, Massachusetts. This tornado saw maximum winds of 90mph. The National Weather Service described the damage as:


"Many trees were snapped or uprooted on Mendon Road near the intersection of Monticello Drive. An eyewitness saw swirling debris before taking shelter in her home. From there, damage was more sporadic. A home on Mary Ann Way had its third floor window blown in. Additionally, there were a number of downed or snapped trees on Lisa Drive."

The final confirmed tornado of the day occurred in Stoughton, Massachusetts. This tornado was an EF-0 with maximum winds estimated at 80mph. Sporadic tree damage was seen along a short path in the town.


On Monday, a fifth tornado was confirmed. This occurred in Scotland, Connecticut where over a hundred trees were broken or had their tops sheared off. This tornado was the first one of the day. About 12,000 customers lost power at one point or another Friday morning. Storms also caused a fair amount of flooding. The entirety of eastern Massachusetts (minus Cape Cod) was covered by a flash flood warning Friday morning.



Storms also caused significant disruptions to the MBTA commuter rail due to both heavy debris on the tracks near where the tornadoes occurred and flooding in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts.



A final report on this event from the National Weather Service is expected on Monday. This is when a final determination on the possible Connecticut tornado will be made.



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